Controversy over legacy of Turkish painting legend
An officially registered Art Nouveau mansion on 3.5 hectares of land on the Istanbul island Büyükada, as well as the works of many famous painters in the mansion…
One apartment block in Nişantaşı, five apartment blocks in Şişli, and around 20 shops…
A house and studio worth at least 1 million euros in the most prestigious areas of Paris…
Some 47,000 euros in a bank account in Paris...
This is the legacy of Tiraje Dikmen, one of the most important names in Turkish painting, who died three years ago. This legacy has been left to decay.
In the two most recent editions of the Istanbul Art News newspaper, the issue was given front-page coverage.
The example shows that justice in our country also gets stuck somewhere, even when the issue is about art and education.
Due to disputes that she had with her sister, Dikmen prepared her will in her 40s. She left all that she had to the Department of Economics at Istanbul University, from where she graduated. She wanted her legacy to be given as scholarships to students in need.
Dikmen had first studied business at the university, then she did her master’s degree, and then her PhD on the situation of women workers during the Ottoman and Republican eras. It is obvious that she felt a duty of loyalty to this university, where she spent some of her best years.
Upon her death, you would expect the university to immediately make a claim to the inheritance that was left to it… But according to the statements made by Dikmen’s lawyer and trustee Cengiz Akıncı to Istanbul Art News, the university did not make a claim for the inheritance and did not make much effort for the execution of the will during the necessary legal process.
As a result, a case that should have been completed in four to five months turned into, in Akıncı’s words, “a series of Kafkaesque violations, illegalities, and bureaucratic obstacles.”
After three years, it has still not been finalized. Apart from real estate worth billions of liras, a collection of Turkish art history’s most important names and the studio of Léopold Lévy, who served for 13 years as the head of the painting department in Istanbul University’s Fine Arts faculty, has not yet been handed over to the university.
We all know the current state of Turkey’s justice system. Akıncı says that a judge neglected his duty and ignored the regulations, so the necessary report was not prepared for one year. What’s more, the will could not be brought from the notary in the Beyoğlu district to Büyüakda in 13-14 months. Despite the house key being in the court vault, the house in Büyükada was entered without a notification, after the doors and locks were broken. The person who did this was the expert assigned to the case.
So we are talking about irregularities of the court and negligence from the university. In addition, the salaries of two watchmen at the house in Büyükada, which is part of the legacy, have not been paid. According to Akıncı, the inheritance officer who should be paying the salaries has been telling the watchmen since February that they should not come to serve their duties at the house.
“The meaning of this is: ‘You get out and we will shut our eyes to this place being robbed,’” said Akıncı, drawing attention to an import detail. “There are two paintings of Feyhaman Duran, both of which are portraits of Tiraje’s mother. One of these appeared in the cover of a catalog prepared by the Central Bank. If this painting disappears, the government’s responsibility will comes to the fore. I have told Istanbul University about this, but it is like a dialogue of the deaf.”
Let’s put the legal disaster of this issue to one side. Just consider how the collection of an artist with such an important place in Turkish art history has been left to decay.
What kind of explanation can this have?